Family Irate After BCPS Refers Student to Now-Suspended School

Family Irate After BCPS Refers Student to Now-Suspended School

(WBFF) -- A Baltimore County family is irate after a senior drops out and enrolls in a high school now suspended by the state, following a Fox45 investigation.

Erick Dunham tells Project Baltimore his school counselor, someone who is supposed to be guiding him in the right direction, suggested he drop out of Lansdowne High School and enroll in New Spiritual Foundation Christian Academy.

“I'm angry. I'm angry,” says Tamara Dunham, Erick’s Mother. “I'm not one of those type of parents that expects the school system to take care of my child. But, at least have my child's best interest at heart, and they didn't.”

This past spring, Erick was a senior at Lansdowne High School. But as graduation approached, Erick was in danger of failing. In late spring, his guidance counselor offered him another graduation option. She referred him to New Spiritual Foundation Christian Academy.

“She had said that she had sent kids there before, and they would come out with their diplomas,” Erick told Project Baltimore.

So, he dropped out of Lansdowne and paid $180 to enroll in New Spiritual.

“They wanted to hurry up and transfer him out of the school system so he was no longer a statistic, a negative statistic, on their reports,” says Tamara Dunham.

Erick’s experience at New Spiritual was similar to other former students Fox45 has interviewed. He said he did about two hours of work, graduated and received a transcript full of classes he never took, including quantum theory.

New Spiritual has been the focus of a recent Fox45 investigation into the value of its diploma. Based out of a rowhome in east Baltimore, its non-public school status has been suspended by the Maryland State Department of Education for safety violations exposed by Project Baltimore.

“I didn't feel safe at all. It was a town home,” says Erick. “When you stepped on the stairs, it'd creak. It just felt really old.”

Baltimore County Public Schools declined an interview with Fox45. So, we sent some questions. We wanted to know how many BCPS students have attended New Spiritual and whether BCPS was aware it was referring students to a school that did not meet safety codes? We heard nothing back. No statement. No interview. Nothing.

Now, Erick must figure out what’s next. When asked what he’s going to do with his diploma from New Spiritual, he replied, “Trash it, I guess. It doesn't really mean anything.”

The 18-year-old is now looking at options to re-enroll in Baltimore County Schools to earn a diploma. He wants to get into cyber security.

“I mean, we've always taught our kids that hard work pays off,” says Tamara Dunham, “and when you have something like this, this teaches kids the complete opposite.”

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